2014 Cadillac ATS 3.6

2014 Cadillac ATS

The Good:
– Unique styling inside and out
– Faster than it feels
– Fair ride, great handling
The Bad:
– Average rear legroom
– Exhaust note could be beefier
– Complicated cabin tech

Every few years, American luxury stalwart Cadillac goes through a substantial change in their philosophy in a bid to better compete with the Europeans. Remember the first STS two decades ago? The first CTS a decade ago maybe? Neither of them made the Europeans break a sweat. But with the latest generation of cars, it seems the tides have turned. While Mercedes-Benz is busy hawking front-wheel-drive hatchbacks to rival VW, and BMW is preparing to compete with Kia in the micro-van stakes, Cadillac is busy churning out new models for enthusiasts at about the same pricepoint. The ATS is one of them.

If you’re trying to decipher the alphabet soup, just know that the Cadillac ATS is a premium compact sedan, slotting in under the now-larger CTS as their entry-level offering. It therefore looks like a little CTS, which is no bad thing. The unique styling is all sharp lines with rounded corners, complemented by 18-inch wheels, dual exhaust tips and tasteful smatterings of chrome.

2014 Cadillac ATS 7

Inside, there’s a lot happening, with more sharp lines, little chrome details, patterned-aluminium trim pieces, a stitched-leatherette dash and centre-console, soft-touch door panels, and even a padded glove-box cover. The only thing more we would’ve liked was maybe some sort of cover for the gaping cup-holders ahead of the front central armrest.

In terms of space, front passengers of any size will be very comfortable, with moderately-bolstered seats and good headroom. The head space is fairly good in the rear too, but the aft seats offer only just about enough space for average-sized adults, so it won’t be ideal for pro-basketball players back there. Aside from the split-folding rear bench, the boot is pretty long and deep for a car this size, although the opening isn’t big enough for, say, stuffing an Eid cow back there.

On the tech front, nothing’s been left out. You like multimedia touchscreens? It’s here. You like robotic thingies? It’s here too, as the touch-operated control panel below the screen can mechanically flip up to reveal a hidden storage space, complete with a USB port for your music player. Other features include a strong CD/MP3 stereo, a dual-zone auto a/c with rear vents that was unstressed in March weather, smart keyless entry with starter button, remote start, adaptive cruise control, heads-up display, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, rear camera with sensors, HID headlights with LED running lamps, sunroof, several airbags, power front seats and a lane-departure warning system that lightly vibrates the seat!

2014 Cadillac ATS 4

The 3.6-litre V6 boasts some impressive specs to go with the rear-wheel-drive platform. With 321 hp on tap at 6800 rpm as well as 371 Nm of torque at 4800 rpm, we managed a solid 6.3 seconds in our 0-100 kph test in cool March weather, and that’s with wheelspin on a dusty road, so it could likely be even faster. The naturally-aspirated engine doesn’t have that initial “kick” that only a turbo motor can provide, rather the power builds up smoothly as the revs go higher. If we had one issue, it’s that the exhaust note doesn’t sound very inspiring until right near the redline, but on the other hand, we also garnered a pretty good fuel consumption figure of 12.7 litres/100 km.

But if the brief was to build a proper sports sedan, they’ve nailed it. Driving the ATS is an absolute pleasure. It harks back to the days when driving was a sensation-filled experience, something that’s distressingly disappearing from the latest crop of German offerings. The quick steering is light at low speeds, firm at higher speeds, as it should be. The brakes are good, with a firm pedal feel. Both the steering and the pedals offer good feedback. And the 6-speed automatic transmission responds well to manual paddle inputs, which was great because it felt a bit muddled in auto mode on occasion, having to adjust to several different driving styles of journalists past.

That auto ‘box is perfectly fine for cruising though. The ATS rides a bit on the firm side, but is compliant on most surfaces. The cabin isn’t super-quiet, but isolation from road and wind noise is decent enough at 120 kph. These are all minor compromises to attain the car’s light-on-its-feet handling. Grip is phenomenal, so the little sedan can be thrown at any corner with verve, without any ill consequences. It simply makes the turn with no drama whatsoever. With 225/40 tyres front and 255/35 rear on 18-inch rims, the ATS behaves absolutely neutral at moderately-high cornering speeds, no under or oversteer, and we were saddened that we didn’t get enough time to find roads where we could push it even further to explore its high limits.

So don’t let the electronic parking brake fool you. While you can’t hoon around with handbrake turns, the ATS is every bit a sports sedan as its contemporary rivals, and better in some major aspects as well. While we described their previous efforts as “almost there,” the ATS has most definitely reached where Cadillac wanted to be all these years.

Price Range:
Dh 175,000-180,000

Current Model Introduced in:
2013

Body Styles:
4-door sedan

Engines:
3.6L 321 hp V6 / 371 Nm

Transmissions:
6-speed automatic

Setup:
Rear-wheel-drive

Suspension:
Front: independent
Rear: independent

Brakes:
Front: discs
Rear: discs

Curb Weight:
1570 kg

Length:
4643 mm

Wheelbase:
2776 mm

Top Speed:
250 kph(limited)

Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
6.3 sec.

Observed Test Fuel Economy:
12.7 litres/100km

9 comments to 2014 Cadillac ATS 3.6

  • Ahmad

    Hey mash, I would really appreciate a review of the new 2014 Ford Fusion.

  • Davis

    Interesting Vehicle. Powerful engine and sounds like its a hell of a gripping vehicle for its class.if it wasn’t so expensive for an entry level car, I may consider it

  • Shijil

    Looks pretty good, much more exclusive on the roads out here. Yes, the rear too cramped, maybe they should have taken some space out of the boot. But in US, boot space counts, so that could be it

  • Vivek

    Like the aggressive stance.Looks like Cadi is ready to sweep the competition off, finally! Throw in a service & maintenance package n it will b hard to not consider owning this.

  • Marwan

    All is fine except the rear end which is the only thing is not changing in the new cadillac range including the new brilliant CTS. Also Cadillac’s reliability is still questionable.

  • Rami

    Hi Mash, How would you compare this car to the much pricier IS350 F-Sport which is in the same class. And what about resale value here in the UAE?

    • Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury

      The Lexus is more fun with ESP off and has a much better gearbox, while having more space as well. Resale value for all-new American nameplates generally aren’t good, as a new model takes time to get established.

  • Mohammad

    Cooled leather seats or alcantara/clothes seats available?

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